Facebook Makes Branding on B2B Pages More Challenging

Yesterday Facebook told the rest of us about their upcoming plans regarding the update coming to Pages in the next couple of weeks, even though it may have been on their developer’s road map since last fall. Most marketers, especially those in the B2B space, do not read the Facebook Developer Blog, so this was news when the following statement appeared at the top of Pages you manage.

Preview Your New Page Layout
To make your Page easier to browse, we’re simplifying a couple things: 1. Boxes are going away (including the Boxes tab); 2. All custom tabs will be narrower (520 pixels). This is your chance to preview your Page and make edits as needed before the new layout goes public on August 23.

This means that any custom pages created with FBML, but especially landing pages, can now be only 520 pixels wide, rather than the previous 760 pixels. This is a reduction of more than 30% in the width of the page. This is a huge loss of screen real estate. Facebook allows so little customization to Pages that the only way B2B companies could present any sort of branded experience is with a custom landing page, or other additional custom tab. Below is the Dell for Business Facebook Page with its revised layout. The white space on the right is the width they will be losing. Click the image to see this full size and you will understand why designers will be upset.

And based on the the new preview of Pages, the left column seen on the Page Wall, which normally does not appear on custom pages, will now appear. Below is what the new Dell Business Page will look like once the new layout is released.

The ability to create a branded landed page for first time visitors (and anyone else who has not Liked the Page) is a great feature. It allows brands to provide custom links to other Facebook tabs, destinations on their corporate website, set expectations for the Facebook Page, and even remind visitors to Like the Page. And now there is significantly less space on the page to do all that. Not to mention that best practices for landing pages are to minimize navigation to help direct the visitor. The addition of the left column only adds visual clutter and makes the page more like other tabs, rather than a landing page.

If any of your custom tabs or landing pages are straight FBML, which is primarily HTML, a re-design of the page should be fairly straightforward, however, if your landing page is in Flash or a custom application that fills the old space, it is time to get moving on an update. Pages that are not revised by the date that this update goes live will appear cropped and visitors will only see the leftmost 520 pixels.

Do you have a landing page or other custom tabs that need to change? Did you know about this changing size before yesterday?

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Facebook’s Updated Page Admin Control

Facebook finally updates one of its most business unfriendly controls by giving page admins the ability to remove other admins, regardless of who created the page. This was announced late last week on the Facebook Page for Facebook Pages. Previously, the creator of a page had rights above all other admins, due to the fact that they could never be removed. This created a real problem for B2B companies who had pages created by outside agencies or consultants. It was also a problem with internally created pages when companies had staff turnover. The page was forever linked to the original creator’s personal profile.

Facebook’s instructions for removing admins are very simple:

1. Click the “Edit Page” link below the Page’s photo.
2. On the right hand side, click the “Remove admin” link in the Admin section to remove selected admins.

The Good

It is a good move by Facebook to allow the creator admin of the page to be removed. There have been many requests in their support forums to add this functionality, so this was a much needed feature.

The Bad

Facebook has given all admins the ability to remove any admin. Having one admin with the ability to remove admins is probably a better way to manage this. It could be a transferable function from the creator admin. Many users have commented that giving all admins this right gives them too much power to hijack a page, but others wisely point out that giving someone admin rights on a Facebook page is already trusting them with a high level of brand stewardship. I would argue it is more important for the existing admins to have the ability to remove the creator admin. It is more likely that this situation would be necessary, rather than an admin going rogue and removing the other admins on the way to trashing a B2B company page.

The Ugly

Facebook page administration is still tied to personal profiles. This creates a difficult situation for corporate brands. This means that one of their brand assets, and in many cases, a large and important asset, is effectively owned by employees or vendors. I have written about a workaround when creating a new Facebook page, but it does not have any effect on existing pages. Creating a business profile account, as recommended in the linked article, is only possible when creating a new page or signing up for Facebook’s ad program. A workaround could be to create a new page for the sole purpose of creating a business profile that you can add to the list of admins on the main page.

Best Practice: If your Facebook page is managed by an outside, third-party vendor, ask them to add someone from your company as an admin. While your company may not do anything on the page, they need to have access the page and now they have the ability to remove other admins.

This is a sign that Facebook is moving in the direction of providing proper business functionality, but until they address company ownership of pages, many B2B companies are just not going to be comfortable with the state of Facebook Pages.

My iPad for Business 1 Month Update

When I bought my iPad, I posted a review of Day 1 using an iPad for business. Reader Christine Thompson left a comment this week asking how it has been going and what other challenges I have run into.

Note Taking
I learned on the first day that I needed a program to take meeting notes and I settled on Pages ($9.99), which is Apple’s word processing program. This is a stripped down iPad version. If you are a whiz at Word and use lots of its nifty functionality, which most people don’t, you will be hampered by this programs. It has all the basics, but that’s it.

As I have continued to attend meetings and take notes in Pages, it has become a bit frustrating. If you are someone who takes copious notes at meetings and constantly refers to them, you would be supremely frustrated. If you want your iPad to be your note taking device, as I do, you want to keep your notes on the iPad in an organized fashion. That is not possible. After you create a new document, an image of it is created in the visual list that you can swipe across. The visual list, with large images of each document, is the only way to access the documents. These are shown in the order that they were created. There is no way to change the order or put documents into folders. To rename a document, click on the default name below the image and change it. Make sure you turn the iPad so it is in portrait mode, as that is the only way to bring up the visual list of documents. And don’t try to combine documents from different programs. Each programs’ documents (Pages, Keynote, Numbers) lives within that program.

The way I approach organization in this cumbersome scheme is to create one document for each client or project and add a date to it with each new set of notes. If that doesn’t work for you, you can always sync these documents to your computer using iTunes, or just email yourself and put the documents in folders as you normally would. This creates version control issues, and you can never be sure which version of your notes contains what you are looking for. The benefit of keeping your notes on your iPad is that you have all your notes together from previous meetings. Again, your frustration level with this is based on the volume of notes you take and how much you refer to them.

Others have used Evernote on their iPads, and this automatically syncs their notes across devices. You can also tag those notes for easy organization. What have your note experiences been on your iPad?

Travel
Last week I took a business trip armed with just my iPad. I agonized over not bringing my laptop, for fear that I would not be able to do certain things (like video editing on the plane), but since it was just a one day trip, I figured I would be fine. I had sent the presentation to the conference organizers, so I didn’t think I would need to present from my iPad, but I was ready anyway. I have Keynote ($9.99). I have the $30 iPad to VGA connector. I even uploaded the presentation to Slideshare as a back up.

The hotel lobby had wifi, so it was no problem connecting to email, Twitter, and even Skype to check-in on our perpetual group chat with folks back in the office. I had written several offline blog posts on the flight down, using Pages, and once I was connected, I wanted to publish one of them. This was a problem. It turns out that the WordPress iPad app does not recognize paste. You can only enter text into the post field. Seriously, no paste. I jumped over to my web browser to log in to WordPress and try it from the dashboard. But no luck. The main panel is not scrollable in the iPad version of Safari. I wound up having to get another blogging app (BlogPress $2.99) to post before I gave my presentation.

Even though I did not present from the iPad, it brought some oohs and ahhs from the attendees. They even joked about a drawing to win my iPad, but I rejected that.

On the flight home, I had wifi, so I tried to take advantage of the Netflix movie streaming app, but it was not to be. The service was not consistent enough for streaming. It was great for email and Twitter, so I went with that.

After using an iPad for business for nearly a month, I still like it’s portability and the ease with which you can carry it around, travel with it, and show others things on the screen. I am not really bothered by the lack of multitasking, because when I am using my iPad, I really don’t want programs running in the background to pop up alert of new messages. And no matter what Steve Jobs says, according to the TSA, when traveling with an iPad, it is just like a laptop and you have to put it in its own bin.

Facebook is Doing It Wrong for B2B Companies

The big recent news about Facebook Pages is that people no longer fan those pages, but like them. This is step in the right direction for B2B companies, but there are quite a few things that are wrong with Facebook’s approach to Pages. Since social media is still so new, and changing all the time, as people learn how to best utilize tools and approaches, there is a reluctance to saying people are doing it wrong. But in this case, with a feature that was designed for companies and brands, Facebook is doing it wrong.

I was writing a post about some helpful tips for B2B companies looking to create Facebook pages for their companies when I got completely stuck on my first tip. Many people do not know about the existence of business profiles and I was going to outline the steps to creating a Facebook page managed by a business profile, rather than a personal profile. But it turns out that it violates Facebook terms of use.

Maintaining multiple accounts, regardless of the purpose, is a violation of Facebook’s Terms of Use. If you already have a personal account, then we cannot allow you to create business accounts for any reason. You can manage all the Pages and Socials Ads that you create on your personal account.

Here’s why this is a problem. When you create a Facebook page, the creator of the page has rights above all other administrators of the page. The creator can add and delete other administrators, but they cannot remove themselves from the page. And there is no way to promote an administrator to this higher level of control. An employee can create a Facebook page, but leave the company on good terms. They still have full access to the page, including the insights dashboard which shows activity and demographics of the page, as well as receiving the weekly email showing page activity. What if they went to work for a competitor?

[UPDATE: June 15, 2010: Facebook gives admins the ability to remove other admins, including the creator admin]

There is not that much information that someone can get from these sources, but what if the employee who created the page is fired, or leaves on bad terms. They can immediately delete the other admins and change the content of the page. They could also easily delete the page. If you are a small B2B company struggling to find content for your Facebook page, this might be relief, although it can damage your reputation, but if you are a large company with tens or hundreds of thousands of fans who communicate though Facebook as another major channel, this is a problem. There has been lots of talk about Facebook attacks from the outside, but what about from the inside?

Many B2B companies hire outside consultants or agencies to build their Facebook pages, and those outside firms are in complete control over the page. Having disputes over payment with your social media provider? They can post that on YOUR Facebook page and if they have removed your admin rights, there is nothing you can do about it. This is not likely to happen, but it is another reason to thoroughly vet your partners for things beyond their social media prowess.

In addition to control, this page is linked to the creator’s personal profile. While it doesn’t show anywhere on the page who any of the admins are, if that person posts questionable content to their profile, this can connect back to your company. Even though pages are public and searchable, the only way to interact people who like your page (they are no longer fans), is to friend them. This lets them see a person’s profile unless they properly manage their privacy settings, which Facebook continues to change and makes difficult to manage, so people will wind up with their information publicly searchable. If Facebook really wants to serve business needs with pages they will make changes to the infrastructure of pages.

So how do companies overcome this problem of loss of control and get on Facebook without violating the Facebook terms of use? Here is my recommendation with a step by step guide. This is based on the assumption that all the people with admin rights on your Facebook page have their own personal profiles.

Before you start, create, or ask the company email admins to create, an email address facebook@yourdomain.com. Make sure this address forwards to you, but it needs to be identified as the company, not you.

  1. Log out of Facebook
  2. From the Facebook home page, click create a business page.
  3. Enter the page name. This should be your company or product name.
  4. Choose a category. These determine what fields you will have on the page, so choose wisely.
  5. Click save, which will prompt you to create a new profile.
  6. Enter the appropriate information for the company, not you, and save as a business profile.
  7. Go to the page and add yourself as an admin.
  8. Logout from the business profile and log back in as yourself.
  9. Now you can add other team members or partners as admins, and the company’s business profile now is the creator admin of the page.
  10. Proceed to administer the page as yourself, and there is no need to log back in with the business profile unless you are creating additional company pages.

Make sure you check with your legal team to make sure this workaround is appropriate for your company.

What others things about Facebook pages have made them a challenge for your B2B company?

4/30 UPDATE: Here’s another great take on this Facebook problem from Tamar Weinberg.